Sandhya Ekneligoda asks President for answers and justice

BY Dinitha Rathnayake 


Sandhya Ekneligoda, the wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe should answer the questions of those such as herself, who have suffered injustices and are seeking justice, as Wickremesinghe was part of a Government that co-sponsored a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution on accountability and human rights. 

Speaking to The Morning from Geneva, Switzerland, where the UNHRC’s 51st session is being held, she said that she had hope for justice and had had a good response after the session, but noted however, that it is sad that the Government could not come to a conclusion on when justice would be served.

“The current President has to answer our questions, as he was part of the said resolution. People who lost hope and suffered injustice are everywhere.” 

She added that the mothers of the disappeared and their families should have justice. According to her, a specific time by when these issues will be resolved should be assured. 

She recalled her travels to Geneva in search of justice over more than 10 years and queried the Government as to how many more years it was expecting her and others like her to come to Geneva. 

Sandhya Ekneligoda was among the earliest families of the disappeared from Sri Lanka to start travelling to Geneva, but since then, many Sri Lankans have started taking their grievances and demands to Geneva. Tamil families of the disappeared who have been engaged in an “aragalaya” (struggle) for more than 2,000 days, Dr. Kasipillai Manoharan whose son was killed on the Trincomalee beach in 2006, community leaders who have been struggling to reclaim land from military occupation, and activists subjected to frequent surveillance, harassment, assault, and unjust arrest have been to Geneva in search of justice. Opposition MPs have also been going to Geneva, with former President and Prime Minister and incumbent MP Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Minister and incumbent MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara being two of the earliest Opposition MPs to travel to Geneva to speak about human rights violations in Sri Lanka in the early 1990s.

Amongst those who went to Geneva for the first time this year was Shehan Malaka, a Catholic youth activist advocating for truth and justice for the Easter Sunday attacks and who had been subjected to various reprisals, including being arrested. Another first timer in Geneva this year was Attorney Nuwan Bopage, a human rights lawyer who, while being part of the “aragalaya”, had provided pro bono legal assistance to many of those arrested and summoned for questioning in relation to the “aragalaya”. Bopage had also been beaten and arrested when he had attempted to defend another person during the attack on a peaceful protest site in July. Religious leaders, including Buddhist monks and Christian clergy, have also been to Geneva.